Monday, February 15, 2010

dinner and a movie: Me & Orson Welles

Welcome to my Monday morning recap of my Sunday night (this week!) dinner and a movie date with myself.
Me & Orson Welles
I had high hopes for Me & Orson Welles. It's directed by Richard Linklater, who is one of my favorite directors. Before Sunset may be my favorite movie ever (and of course, it's precursor, Before Sunrise, is near the top of the list.) Together, the two films are magical for me. I also adore Dazed and Confused, which is my favorite high school film. I wish more people would watch SubUrbia, his version of the criminally under-appreciated play that defines Generation X (which is not available on dvd for some reason.) I adore Slacker, his offbeat first film, although I don't enjoy rewatching it as much as the others. Still, he's a director who has somewhat of a signature but also veers into more mainstream material from time to time (Bad News Bears and School of Rock). 

The story takes place in New York City in 1937. Richard Samuels, played brilliantly by the magnetic Zac Efron, is a high school student who is almost 18 when he's cast in an Orson Welles production of Shakespeare's Caesar at the Mercury Theater. Naturally, his youthful ignorance and idealism are tested while working with the brilliant egomaniac Welles, played quite well by Christian McKay, who was nominated for an IFC Independent Spirit award for the role. Richard also falls for Sonja, played by a surprisingly mediocre Claire Danes. (I am a devotee of My So-Called Life and thus all things Claire Danes and usually I find her acting to be brilliant and mesmerizing.)

While the film was good, the trailer did it a disservice. There were clips of almost every scene in the trailer, but the trailer juxtaposed them differently. As I watched the film, I heard the next line of the trailer in my head, but the scenes themselves were different in the movie. It was jarring. The trailer told too much, so there were few punches or moments of surprise left. Quite honestly, the script wasn't strong enough to hold up when the audience already knew what happened. My advice? Don't watch the trailer.

Overall, it's a lovely little film, and it's certainly worth watching, especially to see Zac Efron. He is a star. He was the star of the film, but he has that je ne sais quois, and I could not take my eyes off of him when he was on screen. It's the first time I've seen him actually have to act and display a wide variety of emotion. He did it all flawlessly, and he acts with his eyes first like a pro. It was perhaps the perfect role to transition from teen heartthrob to actual movie star. He still played a teen, but this role was dense, and he got to come of age over the course of the week in ways both subtle and overtly emotional.

Perhaps my one regret with this film, despite seeing the trailer multiple times, was not reading the novel of the same name by Robert Kaplow first. I did enjoy the story, and I've been fascinated by Orson Welles and his private life since I took my first film class.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5) - rent it
Running time: 114 minutes
Release date: It's in a handful of theaters now, but there's no word on a dvd release yet.
Source: I paid to see it at The Spectrum Theater

After dinner, I had a fabulous Valentine's Day dinner with myself at New World Bistro Bar, my favorite restaurant in Albany. There were so many fantastic appetizer specials, I stuck with tapas and enjoyed every bite:

  • a bowl of lobster bisque (divine!)
  • a lobster-mango salad with cucumber and curry aioli (tropical delight!)
  • diver scallop carpaccio with mango vinaigrette and seaweed gelee (simple and lovely)
  • wasabi-tobiko deviled eggs (a perennial favorite of mine)
  • Eqyptian style sweetbreads with babaganoush and lemon caper sauce (another regular favorite)
Next week: Both Shutter Island (finally!) and The White Ribbon (nominated for Best Foreign Film and Best Art Direction at the Oscars) open. I haven't decided which film I'll see, and I might see both Friday night. Either way, check back next Monday for the recap.

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1 comment:

  1. I am looking SO forward to Zac Efron having to act. I have seen the trailer, but it's been a while, so I won't rewatch it, for sure!

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